Reposted from jbelvl by JekyllnHyde
Of course they aren't really food stamps, they are more properly called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), i.e., not stamps at all, but a card used much like a debit/credit card at the grocery store.
This is where my story begins, but first let me start out by saying I'm a retired psychotherapist and I have a tendency to question everything people say to me...just not all the time, or in every situation.
Three weeks ago, I was in line to pay for groceries and I was waiting as a lady three people ahead of me was using a SNAP card to pay for her groceries. The lady directly in front of me turned.
"I saw that woman climb out of a Cadillac Escalade. She was right in front of me when I parked. What in the hell is up with her? You and I both know if she's driving a car like that, she can afford to pay for those groceries. She's one of them scammers," she said in an embarrassing semi-whisper I knew the SNAP lady could hear.
"Scammers?," I whispered. "What's your definition of a scammer?"
"Anyone who takes from hard working tax paying people when they have no business doing so. She's got no business taking food out of people's mouths who actually need it. She's worse than a cheat, she's a swindler and a cheat, and a...a dirty rotten person." Luckily, the SNAP lady was out of hearing range by that time.
I didn't immediately jump into the fray with this woman, but...me-being-me...I had to pursue this attitude she held about food allotments. I had never used food stamps in the past, so I really had no preconceived attitude toward the practice of handing them out or what they were used for other than just plain groceries. I laid my groceries down, asked the checker to look after them, and I would be right back. I wanted to quiz the SNAP lady about the car and the card she was using. Here's what I learned:
Briefly, the SNAP program is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a government assistance program to help low-income households pay for food. SNAP used to be called the Food Stamp program. The amount of SNAP food stamps a household gets depends on the household's size, income, and expenses.
Eligibility is based upon on your household's net monthly income. Your household's net monthly income is your total countable income minus certain allowable deductions.
Allowable deductions include a standard deduction, an earned income deduction, and deductions for medical expenses for elderly or disabled household members, dependent care, shelter costs, and child support payments.
And, you CANNOT buy anything you want at the grocery store. Some items are a no-no, like cigarettes and alcohol, prescriptions and/or vitamins, non-food items [paper products, etc.], and hot foods ready eat.
But back to the LADY SCAMMER who drove the Cadillac Escalade. I followed her out of the store, stopping her as she opened the Caddy's rear hatch and began a dialog with her while helping her load her goods. I won't bore you with the entrails of our discussion, but here's the high points.
I asked her about the Caddy and her use of food stamps and how people might think she was a scammer. Here is her reply:
"First of all, the car isn't mine, it's my ex-brother-in-law's. Mine got repossessed last month. Secondly, I'm unmarried and I have two daughters ages 10 and 12 who need to get fed. Oh, and I lost my job when the car got repo-ed cause I couldn't get to work. Then, I had no transportation to go looking for a job and, as you know, here in good ol' Idaho you have to be able to drive cause public transportation sucks. And if I don't find work soon, me and the kids'll be out on the street cause rent's due in two weeks. I've never been on food stamps before and I can't wait to get off of them...I am DEFINITELY not a scammer." We talked a bit more, I finished helping her load the groceries and she drove off in that slick [not-her-own] white Escalade.
The lady made me think, hey, looks are deceiving and people who are judging this woman haven't a clue what she's facing.
Now understand, I'm a realist. I know there are people out there who scam. In fact, it has been my experience that if there is a system and there is money in that system, somebody will try a scam to pocket some of it. However, the vast majority of people who get welfare need the help. What kind of a society would we be if we kicked those people to the curb and didn't try to help them out? Personally, I don't want to live in a society that practices Social Darwinism.